Monday, November 06, 2006


Gentle reader, you’re in luck: we’ve got two topics for tonight. One: why I changed our amniocentesis appointment; and two: why I hate Shakespeare’s heroine Cordelia.

I can boil the amnio question down to a rather succinct answer: More than once, I found myself waking up in the middle of the night worrying about this thing, and that is very unlike me. Once I’m asleep (which, granted, can take a while), that’s it for the night. Aside from taking potty breaks (especially these days), it more or less takes a nuclear blast to get me up before the alarm goes off.

But why was I worrying about it so much? We had booked a doctor (call her Dr. X) through our HMO to do the procedure. I had talked about this doc with the HMO genetics department, and they told me she had done 2500 procedures since 1991. Granted, that sounds pretty good, but they didn’t have a yearly breakdown. For all I knew, she had done only 25 of them in the last year. (Unlikely, but who knew?) Also, when I talked with Dr. Blinky about this particular doctor, he didn’t seem to know much about her or her work. Since there are only three doctors in our HMO local area who do amnios, I would think he would know something about her if she had much of a reputation.

Finally, the week before the amnio was to be done, I couldn’t stand it anymore. I fired off an email to Dr. Enterprise (our IVF doctor, who recommended Dr. Tex for our reduction). I was expecting her to say, oh, it’s fine, I know Dr. X and she does good work, don’t worry. Instead I received the following (slightly redacted for names):

I recommend you have your amnio with Dr. Tex just to be sure. He knows what to look for after the reduction and has a lot of experience. None of the (HMO) doctors, especially Dr. X have experience with patients who have had reductions. I think it is well worth the extra money to have a doctor like him. He’s a vanishing species.

Frankly, you have to have bigger cojones than I do to buck Dr. Enterprise's advice. So now we are booked with Dr. Tex to do the amnio on this coming Wednesday. It was funny, actually -- as soon as we made the decision to do it, and I called CPMC and got an appointment (which luckily will be at a satellite office in the town we live in, rather than having to go all the way to San Francisco), I felt as if a weight had been lifted from me. Literally, it was as if I had been carrying a heavy object on my shoulders, and it had rolled right off. It was the most extraordinary feeling.

Of course, that was immediately followed by my worrying about how to pay for it! For those who wonder about such things, the procedure plus the lab work is going to run us about $1800. Ouch. We are not poor. . . but after all these expenses, I’m starting to feel like it! But at least I’m sleeping through the night again. (Except for the aforementioned potty breaks.)

And now for the luckless Cordelia.

One of my favorite writers ever is the science fiction and fantasy author Lois McMaster Bujold. I discovered her works shortly before D and I married, and I’ve been snapping up her works as they come out ever since. Her most brilliant series is the Vorkosigan family saga, which begins with a rather unusual late-in-life romance between Aral Vorkosigan and Cordelia Naismith, in the book SHARDS OF HONOR (also included in the omnibus volume, CORDELIA’S HONOR). The novel is written from Cordelia’s POV, and she is an incredible kick-ass character: smart, wise, witty, and very brave. (And she only gets better in subsequent books in the series.) If you like character-driven SF, and especially if you like non-stupid romance, I urge you to check out this book.

After a few years of my waxing ecstatic over Bujold’s work, my darling husband wanted to see what I was so excited about. I gave him SHARDS OF HONOR. He read it in short order, and afterward said that if he ever had a daughter, he would want to name her Cordelia. High praise indeed! And such was the impression that the book made on him, he has kept this notion ever since.

There’s just one hitch.

I really, really dislike the name Cordelia.

This is rooted mostly in my antipathy toward Shakespeare’s play, “King Lear.” Mind you, I’m very keen on some Shakespeare. “Cymbeline,” a very dark comedy, is one of my favorite plays ever (and it also has the advantage of a kick-ass heroine in his Imogen -- but then, Imogen is a fairly awful name too). “Hamlet” is a play for the ages. “Romeo and Juliet,” while a trifle nonsensical, has sublime language and some unforgettable scenes and characters.

But I’ve never liked Lear, either the play or the character. King Lear starts the play half-potty, as far as I can tell (today I think he’d be diagnosed as well on his way to senile dementia), and doesn’t become a sympathetic character until the last ten minutes of the play. Of his three daughters, the conventional wisdom is that two of them, Regan and Goneril, are awful, conniving bitches, and his youngest daughter Cordelia is an angel and the incarnation of the word honor. Well, I’ll agree that I wouldn’t care to meet either Regan or Goneril in a dark alley, but as for Cordelia, she’s not a heroine; she’s a passive, cowering simp. She never does anything throughout the entire play, except for her initial action of refusing to suck up to her dad (which in itself is a passive, negative action, not a positive one). And even that is nonsensical. She’s supposedly his favorite daughter, which means that she should know him like the back of her hand, and be used to dealing with him. So what does she do when he’s acting like an idiot? Instead of talking him down, or gently showing him what an imbecile he’s being and getting him to see the humor of his own ridiculousness (techniques we see used by Portia in “The Merchant of Venice”), Cordelia flies the metaphorical red flag right in the face of the enraged bull.

Now, in my opinion, this is old Billy Shakes busy at work setting up his plot. He’s not particularly worrying about whether the characters totally make sense at this point. He’s just setting up discord between his characters, to hang the rest of the play on. (He does the same thing in Hamlet – sacrificing common sense for showmanship – but that’s such an amazing play in so many other ways that I’ll forgive him just about anything for that one play.) Also, I believe Cordelia is meant to be Honor incarnate, which means she doesn’t have to be a real person or an interesting character -- she is more of a place-marker for the idea of Honor and what one should be willing to sacrifice to keep it.

But I just don’t like her. And I don’t like the name, either. There is no good diminutive for Cordelia. Delia? Sounds like a hooker from the 1940’s. (Please, if your mother is named Delia, I’m not insulting her. I’m just saying what the name sounds like to me.) And Cordie? Oh, ick. Okay. . . then how about Cord? Of what, wood? So you see, you’re stuck with a three-syllable name at all times. And that seems both unwieldy and pretentious to me.

An obvious solution would be to use Cordelia as a middle name. However, there is a six-generation tradition in my family of giving the first-born daughter the middle name “Louise.” I am the sixth Louise in a row, and I really want to make it seven (if we are even having a daughter, which is in doubt, but my dear darling stubborn husband has also decided he doesn’t want to know the genders of the babies).

So I offered him a compromise last night. If we have two daughters, the first gets the middle name Louise and the second gets the middle name Cordelia. He was okay with that, but asked, what if we have one daughter?

Well, it’s not euphonious, but I suggested that we saddle the child with two middle names: Louise and Cordelia. (This poor kid is going to hate us!) The downside to that, of course, is that having two middle names is ridiculously unwieldy and pretentious as well. Needless to say, D. thought that was a crappy idea. (Honestly, I think it’s a crappy idea too, but it STARTS with the crappy idea of being too attached to the name Cordelia!)

D. then offered what seemed to him a brilliant solution: what about naming a girl Louise Cordelia?

Well, that is a solution of sorts … except that I am attached to the name Louise not because I find it particularly attractive, but because it is part of my family history. I know I’d start calling her “Lou,” which to me is redolent of some fat guy chewing a cigar. Not the image I see when I think of my daughter-to-be.

We left it at that for the moment, but I’m not imagining for a moment that this is over yet. D. was clearly marshalling his forces for another round.

I swear, I’m starting to hope we have two sons.


Blogger chris said...

Or worse, Weesie. Stick with Louise with a middle name--it's a tradition. Your husband will have forgotten Cordelia in a few weeks. Probably.

Meanwhile, get one of those name books and see if you can find something you both like. You can always each make a list and give each other a number of vetoes which the other can't challenge or complain about.

By the way, my mother was a 1940s hooker and I object to that statement.

12:56 AM  
Blogger casey said...

Oh, I remember the days of praying I would have a daughter to avoid the whole name issue (we didn't have a boy's name picked out) and the circumcision issue (over my dead body). Then, we got our girl, and the issues kept on coming ("What do you mean, you're still nursing her at age 3?" Just kidding.)

What about "Lia" or "Lea" as a shortened version of Cordelia? It's a stretch, but might do the trick. Or, take the letters of that name and see if you can't come up with something you like. For instance "Doralice" or "Colderia?" (The first with the Italian pronunciation, of course: Dora-leetchay).

Good luck. As much as it can be frustrating, these are actually the fun things.

11:28 AM  
Anonymous marion said...

I have two middle names (long story) and I'm really glad that I do. Gives me more names to choose from for nicknames, aliases and the like, and makes me feel like a multi-faceted personality. There's nothing wrong with having more than one middle name, IMHO...and, also, if you name her Something Louise Cordelia, Cordelia will show up relatively infrequently on legal documents and the like. SS cards and driver's licenses have room for only one middle name.

Sorry if this makes your dilemma more difficult...just wanted to speak up for the two middle names side...

8:15 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home